URANIUM MINING IN AUSTRALIA: THE FACTS
In recent weeks, there has been significant commentary about uranium mining in Australia from individuals and organisations opposed to the industry.
The commentary has often been poorly informed. To assist a sensible debate about the industry in Australia, the Minerals Council of Australia provides 10 key facts on uranium.
- More than 10,000 containers of yellowcake have been exported from Australia over more than 30 years without incident.
- The method of mining and extracting uranium in Australia is similar to that of other minerals.
- Mined uranium ore has a low level of radioactivity. Drummed uranium concentrate gives off only a low level of radiation. Neither are explosive.
- Australia has 31 per cent of the world’s known uranium reserves. The industry employs about 4000 people and exports $700 million of uranium a year.
- The industry is heavily regulated. The industry operates to standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Federal Government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and State Governments.
- Uranium mining workers are exposed to similar levels of radiation as airline flight crews and medical imaging specialists.
- The industry takes radiation exposure seriously and constantly monitors levels to ensure the safety of employees and the public.
- There are currently over 60 nuclear power plants under construction in 13 countries. Nuclear energy generation is expected to increase by between 51-126% over the next 20 years, offering ample demand for Australian uranium.
- Australian uranium is only used for generating emissions-free electricity and other peaceful purposes. There are currently more than 400 nuclear reactors operating in 31 countries, generating about 14 per cent of the world’s electricity.
- Australian uranium is indirectly used in smoke detectors and life-saving medical equipment. The Federal Government’s Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation uses uranium to create medical isotopes – used in hospitals throughout Australia and overseas.